The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

January 16, 2014

Experts see possible charges in NJ bridge scandal

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The George Washington Bridge traffic jam that was apparently engineered by allies of Gov. Chris Christie as political payback could lead to criminal charges such as conspiracy or official misconduct, legal experts say.

Also, those involved in the lane closings could be charged with perjury or obstruction if they lied to or misled investigators or if they produced documents after the fact that were designed to thwart an investigation.

"To me, the most plausible course for a federal criminal investigation would be to see if there's any cover-up," said Rutgers University law professor Stuart Green, adding that under the law, the conduct being covered up does not have to be criminal in itself.

Federal prosecutors and both houses of the state Legislature are investigating the scandal, which broke wide open last week with the release of emails and text messages suggesting that a top Christie aide ordered the lane closings in mid-September to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who did not endorse the Republican governor for re-election.

Fort Lee officials and others complained that the four days of gridlock at the busiest bridge in the world delayed emergency vehicles, school buses and countless commuters and put people's lives in danger.

On Wednesday, a former federal prosecutor who helped convict former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich of corruption, Reid Schar, was tapped to investigate the scandal for the state Assembly.

"A potential misuse of taxpayer resources for political purposes is a serious matter that requires an astute legal eye with experience in this realm to help guide the process," said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Democrat.

While the furor could haunt Christie's expected run for president in 2016, there has been no evidence he had a role in the closings. But those who were involved could face conspiracy charges, according to Fordham University law professor Jim Cohen, who teaches a course in law and responsibility.

Text Only
AP National
  • Obama urges immediate access to Ukraine crash site WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama sternly called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to compel Kremlin-backed separatists to stop hampering the probe at the Ukraine site of a downed passenger jet and allow international investigators unfettere

    July 22, 2014

  • American Jews, other 'lone soldiers' serve Israel JERUSALEM (AP) — The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel. Israel calls them the lone soldiers: They are men and women in the pri

    July 22, 2014

  • 2008 law unexpectedly at center of border debate WASHINGTON (AP) — A 2008 law to address human trafficking is at the center of the debate over the immigration crisis at the nation's Southern border. The law was passed at a time when fewer than 10,000 unaccompanied minors showed up each year at the

    July 22, 2014

  • Lawmakers face long to-do list, uncertain success WASHINGTON (AP) — A gridlocked Congress failed to do the big things: overhauling the nation's immigration system, reforming the loophole-cluttered tax code and stiffening background checks on gun buyers. Now it's time to see whether it can just do th

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014

  • Working-class whites lose voting dominance in Ohio COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — For the first time, working-class whites make up less than half of Ohio's eligible voters, part of a demographic shift in a key Midwestern swing state that is pushing political parties to widen their appeal beyond the once-domin

    July 22, 2014

  • Obama urges immediate access to Ukraine crash site WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama sternly called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to compel Kremlin-backed separatists to stop hampering the probe at the Ukraine site of a downed passenger jet and allow international investigators unfettere

    July 21, 2014

  • US outlines case against Russia on downed plane WASHINGTON (AP) — Video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site. Imagery showing the firing. Calls claiming credit for the strike. Recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site. "A buildup of

    July 21, 2014

  • Florida town stunned by news of police KKK ties FRUITLAND PARK, Fla. (AP) — Ann Hunnewell and her central Florida police officer husband knelt in the living room of a fellow officer's home, with pillow cases as makeshift hoods over their heads. A few words were spoken and they, along with a half-d

    July 21, 2014

  • Kerry returns to Mideast to push for cease-fire WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is making a renewed push for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas with another trip to the Middle East after the civilian death toll in the conflict sharply escalated over the weekend. Kerry left

    July 21, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National